Whinge-Fest 2014

So, I’m officially embarrassed … It’s been almost six months since I last posted on my blog. But, it hasn’t been for want of … well, wanting! I’ve still managed to churn out an article or two for Australian Teachers’ Magazine and Fractus Learning. I’m also chipping away at a couple of presentations for upcoming conferences. But, I also have some complaints to make; and not just about getting older (I’ll be doing that in another post in the next few days … yep, two posts in a week. How lucky are you guys!)

So, the three headline acts of Whinge-Fest 2014 are ready to take to the main stage …

Bucks Fizz, The Eurovision Song Contest winners of 1981, are making a long awaited comeback to the music business. Still best known for their song “Making Your Mind Up” … their lyrics have inspired School Principals and Administrators everywhere. In fact, I think I heard my boss humming it just the other day.

“That the time’s all right
For making your mind up.
Don’t let your indecision
Take you from behind …”

And, for true music nostalgia buffs who just didn’t understand the bearded lady at Eurovision 2014, check this out.

 

The Big O himself is no longer with us but you old rockers out there are sure to be dancing the night away until the wee small hours at our Roy Orbison Tribute Show. Who could not sing along with the catchy lyrics of “Working For the Man.”

“Well pick up your feet,
we’ve got a deadline to meet.
I’m gonna see you make it on time.
Don’t relax,
I want elbows and backs.”

(But, I do wonder how many teachers would actually have the energy to dance the night away?)

Because you have to save the best for last; we’re going to give you Alice Cooper. I for one hope he rolls out all his classic hits including “School’s Out.” I’ll be right there in the front row screaming along with Alice …

“Well we got no choice,
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise …”

As Whinge-Fest draws to a close let me just say, “I want to be your sledgehammer.” I’m many things but subtle surely isn’t one of them. This is my 33rd year as a teacher and I can’t recall another like it. Why? Because huge, overcrowded senior classes (28 is my smallest), work intensification and vacillating, inattentive administrators have taken their toll.

Food for (Christmas) Thought

So, finally the marking of exams is complete, I’m on a reduced teaching load and … I’m long overdue for a blog post. Christmas is my favourite time of year; it has to be when you’re married to a woman with a serious decoration addiction. Our house already has enough flashing lights to cause suburb wide seizures! Yeah, I know, I’m rapidly veering off track. For schools in my home state of Queensland there are only a dozen days of school left. Christmas is also, of course, a great time to recharge (…not just your wine glass!) and think ahead to the 2014 academic year.

Image Credit: everydayyardsale.com

Image Credit: everydayyardsale.com

Earlier this year I came across a great free app called Quotes Folder. It comes with a huge number of famous quotes but also gives you the opportunity to create your own folders of tagged quotes. (It’s easy to copy and paste tweets straight into Quotes Folder too!) This morning I discovered that I had saved 99 quotes; everything from Einstein to W.C.Fields and a whole range of techs-perts. (Is that even  a word?) So now, in true end of year fashion, here in ascending order are the top ten quotes sourced from my Twitter stream in 2013. They are meant to be … Food for (Christmas) Thought.

10. “Beware of geeks bearing GIFs” I’m a great fan of Australian comedian Will Anderson and I teach Ancient History so this one had to make the list … even though it’s “just funny.”

9. “Society no longer cares how many facts we can memorise because facts are free.” Mr. A. Nonymous has always been a great source of inspiration. The ability to ” just Google that” has changed the very face of education. But I can still recite the first 25 emperors of Rome in order, with dates!

8. “I don’t want my son to be limited to learning only what his teacher already knows.” This particular gem is from John Couch, the Apple VP for Education. Surely, letting go of control is a difficult adjustment for teachers of a certain vintage (i.e. the over 50s like me!) but it is necessary. I’m certain that Alan November would just look at some of us and ask … “Well, who owns the learning?”

7. “I’ve yet to have a student tell me they can’t use technology in class because they haven’t had any PD on it.” Anonymous strikes again! I’m a great advocate for teachers adopting a new mindset. It is mindset which sets young people apart from their teachers … they aren’t more naturally, natively gifted at technology; they’re just prepared to try, fail and try again.

6. “One does not simply teach digital citizenship – it needs to be observed, modelled, practiced and lived by all members of a school community.” Alec Couros tells us here where so many schools are going wrong. I know mine is failing; digital citizenship can not be a once a year tokenism. It needs to be embedded deep within the curriculum across all subjects and year levels. And whilst I’m on this particular high horse; it’s time for teachers to be empowered to model the effective use of social media in establishing and maintaining connectedness. (End of rant!)

5. “Why are digital copies still perceived to hold less authority than paper?” This excellent question was posited by Tom Barrett of No Tosh and I sincerely wish I knew the answer. In 2012 my school had a photocopying bill of over $80,000. I simply don’t know how this is possible in our paperless society. We have emails, scanners, Dropbox, Pinterest, Blendspace, Google Apps … and you know I could keep going. Just think of the ways that $80,000 could (and should) have been spent.

Image Credit: teachersdiary.com

Image Credit:
teachersdiary.com

4. “Homework doesn’t teach kids responsibility. It teaches compliance. A better solution is self-directed, independent, optional learning.” John Spencer (no, not the guy from The West Wing) has, in my opinion, absolutely “nailed it.” Homework has become quite the hot topic on Twitter and elsewhere in recent weeks. I must agree with his belief that all it teaches is compliance! So many great alternatives are emerging; my favourite, the “Homework Menu.”

3. “The underlying assumicide is that schools of the future will be like the schools of today, only with more technology.” This quote from Ian Jukes simply had to make the list for his creation of the term assumicide. It’s surely time for us to stop making a whole range of errant assumptions in the educational field. We have to be creating schools for a future that is envisioned as “a promise fulfilled” not an apocalyptic threat (or a Will Smith film!)

2. “The only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions.” If you look around your school … do you see disengaged students who are being “taught by the undead.” The Zombie Apocalypse has already arrived in schools … You’ve been warned!

Do you know this teacher? Image Credit: inkspirationalmessages.com

Do you know this teacher?
Image Credit:
inkspirationalmessages.com

1. “If you don’t like change, try irrelevance.” Only seven words, but my quote of the year, tweeted by George Couros. If you “just Google that” you’ll find it attributed to various people in various forms. But it says it all … none of us willingly welcomes a change (unless you’re a baby in nappies) but my greatest fear is that schools are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

What do you think? I’d love your feedback on my ramblings and the quotes I’ve chosen. Or, do you have a favourite quote of your own to contribute?

 

It’s a Change for Time

I know exactly what you’re thinking … shouldn’t the title read “It’s Time for a Change.” Well, no because I now understand that the very concept of time itself has undergone a radical transformation. Nor, is this post some presumptuous attempt to critique Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time; which, of course, I didn’t even understand (or finish for that matter!) My musings here are in fact inspired by the Forum article by Deidre Macken which appeared in The Weekend Australian on Saturday, September 21. I’ve now read it several times for its originality of thought and its deep resonance with one of my most prominent education concerns. Naturally, I encourage you to read the full text of the article by one of Australia’s better known columnists. However, you would need to be a digital subscriber to The Weekend Australian.

Image Credit: www.melissagalt.com

Image Credit: www.melissagalt.com

Being of a similar “vintage” (i.e. born in the 50s) I certainly well recall the era when “… time was under the control of someone else (usually the adults pointing to their wristwatch).” But, I hadn’t really considered previously how the control of time has now passed to “… anyone with (a) smartphone …” especially, but not exclusively, young people. Macken coins the term in-my-time for this phenomenon. Most interestingly, for me at least, she goes on to list the time related concepts that are disappearing:

“Think of the idea of publication date, of opening hours, of deadlines, of bookings, adult-time viewing or even that old stand-by, it’s a date.”

Certainly, in-my-time has made for profound changes in a whole range of business models; of which the boom in online shopping is the best example. As the article draws to a conclusion, Macken makes a further telling statement:

“We are multi-tasking our moments, rewriting schedules, going soft on commitments and making the future as fluid as possible.”

She concludes with the reminder that time is “… up for grabs, and chances are you aren’t in charge of it.”

Now, finally, I can try to explain why this article has had such a profound effect upon me. It would seem to me that teachers expend far too much energy in schools attempting to control time.

Image Credit: www.profitmax.com.au

Image Credit: www.profitmax.com.au

We parcel the day into neat little segments of equal length … “OK, that’s the end of History for today, now let’s send you off to Maths.” But the young people we teach have recognised and accepted their digitally enhanced world as a fluid place. How can we encourage the use of technology whilst simultaneously imposing time limits upon learning? It’s undoubtedly true that many students have gone “soft on commitments” (especially where assessment due dates are concerned!) and that we need to turn them into empowered digital citizens. Perhaps one way for us to manage their time would be to actually relinquish our hold upon it; to allow them to learn passionately rather than according to our strict subject organised format. I would welcome your thoughts. As for those assessment due dates … how would you respond if a student said, “I’ll get it to you in-my-time.”

For ACU Preservice Teachers (…and Interested Bystanders.)

For many of you … you may want to stop reading NOW! This blog post is almost exclusively for the preservice teachers enrolled in my tutorial group at the Brisbane Campus of ACU. But, by all means read on, if you’ve found your way here you undoubtedly have time to spare anyway. The focus of our August 13 tutorial was “Questioning” which to my thinking is one of the most problematic facets of teaching. The embedded PowerPoint does, however, offer some great tips and reminders for all of us; even those, like me, who have over 30 years teaching experience.
Most significantly, the suggestions come from a wide range of Australian teachers. These ideas were crowdsourced from Twitter on the evening prior to the tutorial. I offer my sincere thanks to all the members of @edutweetoz who provided a response. Pleasingly, a number of members of the tutorial group have now joined this Twitter community. I’m certain they will learn a great deal from the “shared wisdom” of the crowd.

PS: I will be posting again very soon in order to share my experiences from the 10th National Conference for Interactive Teaching and Learning. This two day IWB Net conference took place on the Gold Coast on August 9 and 10.

 

Questioning

The Meteoric Rise of a Rockstar

It has been a crazy week; an even crazier past 48 hours. Yesterday I visited three schools in my “district” looking at various approaches to BYOD with a view to 2015. In the afternoon I was fortunate enough to attend the Gold Coast’s first ever (much anticipated and long overdue) Teach Meet. I’m pleased to say that the event was everything I had expected and more. Close to 100 teachers were present at the Guardian Angels Primary School in Ashmore and I was amongst the ten presenters. I took the opportunity to outline the “Innova8” program that I have been conducting for one hour per week with my Year 8 class. This project is based upon the well known Google 20% Time, although you may also have heard it referred to as Genius Hour or The Passion Project. I had promised to upload my presentation for the benefit of those who attended but I hope others will also find it beneficial. If you are interested in starting a similar project I would certainly welcome and respond to your questions. You will also find a link within the presentation to take you to the students “Innova8.1 Showcase” … this site will continue to grow. Do use the presentation if you wish and by all means “show off” our showcase.

Innova8 (Google 20% Time)

During the afternoon I was referred to as an “EdTech Rockstar.” Now, I have to admit that I do revel in fancy titles and the odd dose of adulation. But, more importantly, it gave me a great opening for the guest lecture that I delivered this morning at the Banyo Campus of the Australian Catholic University. Introducing myself as a rockstar I was able to follow up with

“But just one look at this pasty old white guy, tells you that I’m far more Mick Jagger than Flo Rida.”

No need for you to agree with me, I do own mirrors! I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak to an auditorium full of our next generation of teachers. My chosen topic was “Create, Collaborate, Curate … and Become a Connected Teacher.” Although some aspects of my presentation are directly linked to the requirements of the unit, I hope other readers will also find my “musings” worthwhile. Once again, I am more than happy for you to use individual slides or the whole presentation if it is of value. I welcome also your questions and feedback.

ACU Lecture: Create, Collaborate and Curate

Using Technology to Combat the Boys’ Literacy Problem

A few months back I was approached by Robin Canedy who works with the Pathways Charter School in San Diego. Specifically, Robin had teachers who were interested in contributing a guest post to my blog. After several delays (all of them mine!) I now want to introduce my guest contributor, Alanna Gasser who is a teacher and freelance writer in California.
Her post seems particularly pertinent given the subject matter of my recent workshop on visual literacy at the Queensland History Teachers’ Association annual conference. Alanna quite rightly, in my opinion, points out that boys “…will generally respond to visual and kinesthetic teaching strategies more effectively.” I ask you to give Alanna’s post your full consideration and as always, please do post comments.

Using Technology to Combat the Boys’ Literacy Problem

It is a rather well-known educational issue that boys tend to fall behind girls when it comes to reading and writing skills. National studies including those in the USA, Canada, and the UK show that boys’ literacy scores are lower than girls’ on standardized tests, that boys are more likely to be placed in special needs programs, and more likely to drop out of school. It is also fairly well recognized that most boys will generally respond to visual and kinesthetic teaching strategies more effectively. Could embracing visual and social technologies in the classroom be just the thing we need to help boost boys’ literacy scores?

The Problem

Robert Lipsyte argues in this New York Times essay “Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?”, that part of the problem lies in the female domination of the book publishing business, schools, and more specifically, school libraries. He claims that boys are generally more inclined to read non-fiction, and that the kinds of books boys are interested are not the same kinds of books supported by the education system.

Judith Kleinfeld, founder of the not-for-profit Boys’ Project, has similarly argued that the literacy gap between boys and girls is far wider than the sciences/maths gap for girls which has, in the past, been another hot education topic. Astonishingly, she claims that more than 25% of American male high school students cannot read and understand a newspaper article. A summary of her Boys’ Project findings can be found here, as explained by Richard Whitmire.

A common complaint amongst male students’ parents is that they wish their son would drop their video game controller, turn off the computer, put down their smart phone…. and pick up a school book! Something a few educators have begun to catch on to is the idea of using this kind of excitement and engagement with technology, and turning it into a tool for student success.

Image Credit: www.weskids.com

Image Credit: www.weskids.com

Video Games

Why not, for example, let role-playing video games play a role in literacy learning? These games certainly involve a degree of reading and comprehension, as the player must read the back story about the characters and purpose of the game, and understand the tasks he is being asked to complete.

One assignment could involve having students create their own video game world, and write the script for the game’s back story. Another assignment could be for students to write a short summary explaining the back story of their favourite game, or an episode from one of their latest role-playing video game adventures. In this way, the students are engaged by the visual and kinesthetic excitement of video games, and the teachers get to sneak in some very complex reading comprehension and creative writing practice.

Bitstrips

While we are at it, why not turn to boys’ love of action-packed comic strips/graphic novels into yet another technology-based literacy tool? This is essentially the premise behind using Bitstrips, a web-based, teaching-friendly tool which allows teachers and students to easily create unique and interesting comic strips for the classroom.

Teachers can use them as another medium for presenting content to students, or as a creative writing assignment for students. One of the main reasons Bitstrips are so effective for teaching literacy is because the student (or teacher!) can choose from banks of images rather than relying on artistic skills, and can thus focus more time and attention to the written content of the comic strip. Boys in particular will respond to the visual element Bitstrips provide, and students will enjoy sharing and discussing one another’s work.

Text Messaging

Another popular topic in the field of technology and education is the debate surrounding the use of cell phones in the classroom. One camp is prone to arguing that cell phones are a constant distraction and that their use only hinders effective teaching and learning. The other camp argues that their use is inevitable – text communication is so pervasive that fighting students’ engagement with it is a losing battle – and that educators should embrace the technology instead. In fact, one report claims that 54% of teenagers opt for text-tech communication, and that most of them choose this form of communication over face-to-face or oral communication methods.

Image Credit: ryanrmartinez.wordpress.com

Image Credit: ryanrmartinez.wordpress.com

A few resources have come about which limit the number of privacy and ethical issues associated with text messaging in the classroom. For example, Celly, a mobile social networking application, allows teachers to keep phone numbers private/anonymous, and gives them the control to keep messages on-topic and appropriate.

There are many ways of using text messaging in the classroom. Teachers can encourage students to use text-messaging shorthand when taking notes, they can compare text-messaging lexicon to formal writing as a means of discussing audience and purpose in texts, they can use text messaging to promote conciseness and brevity in writing, and text messages can be sent as a medium for class discussions and debates. The possibilities are virtually endless, and because students are already so very involved in the texting phenomena, these assignments will be ones that they can relate to, and which they will be more motivated to participate in.

Despite some popular concerns related to the availability of resources (not every student will have video games, a computer, and a cell phone), privacy (sharing phone numbers), and with the possibility of cyber-bullying looming in the background, the possibility that technology can improve boys’ literacy rates is promising. Boys respond to the visual elements of video games and comic strips, and the conciseness/brevity of comic strips and text messaging make literacy more accessible to boys. If technology makes literacy skills practice more interesting and accessible for boys… well then, what are we hesitating for?

QHTA: Digital Tools for Visual Literacy

Today, June 22 was the first day of school holidays but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to be a presenter at the QHTA (Queensland History Teachers’Association) Annual Conference. The day began with an engaging if occasionally controversial keynote by journalist and author, Anthony Lowenstein who spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I also enjoyed a presentation by University of Queensland Classics lecturer, Dr. Tom Stevenson who discussed the life of Hypatia of Alexandria.

I presented a one hour session on three of my favourite digital tools, ThingLink, Pinterest and, of course, Haiku Deck. All three work well together and have been extremely useful and well received in my History classes. For those who participated in my session, the presentation (as promised) is embedded below. Of course, it is also available for my other, regular readers. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can offer any clarification or assistance. Two more presentations in the next few weeks … so I was never going to have a holiday anyway!

 

Digital Tools for Visual Literacy in the History Classroom

EduTECH Brisbane 2013

OK, so this will be a very short post … in part because I have exams to assess but also because everything I want to say is in an embedded Haiku Deck. Over the past two days I had the opportunity to attend EduTECH Brisbane, 2013. This meant that I had the chance to hear and even meet some genuine “rockstar” educators; Daniel Pink, Stephen Heppell, Alan November, Salman Khan and Sir Ken Robinson. That is not in any way to diminish the contributions of many “local” luminaries.

Fortunately for me (but not the exam marking) this coincided with the release of the latest Haiku Deck update. So, what to do? Well, to me it was obvious … download the update and create a new deck to “curate” the great learning from EduTECH. And here it is, a public deck with notes and explanations (one of the new features) that you are invited to download, use or embed in your own blog.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

The Curse of Competence

 

Warning: This post will, at first, appear to be a vehement, unrelenting rant. But please read on.

Yesterday, May 7, I had “one of those days.” All teachers have those days; you know what I’m talking about, the days when you seem to do anything but teach. My day went something like this …

 7:45-8:30 am – Plough through a mire of largely insignificant emails

8:30-8:40 am – Fill in with a Home Room group for an absent teacher

8:40-9:25 am – Attend the school Library with my Year 8 English class for the Literature Circles program devised and conducted by our Teacher-Librarian

9:25-10:10 am- Supervise a small group of Year 11s in Study Line

10:10-11:00 am – Explain OPs, SAIs, QCS and QTAC (Don’t ask!) to a class of Year 10s because “Their teacher’s sick! We need you to do this, because you know all the material.”

11:00-11:35 am – Attend a meeting about the administration of NAPLAN (If you’re Australian you’ll recognize and curse this particular acronym!) because I’m a “required” supervisor, even though I don’t teach Year 9!

11:35 am – 12:20 pm – Supervise Year 12 students in the yard who are on a break from a full day QCST (Queensland Core Skills Test) practice. This was my one “Marking and Preparation” lesson for the day but, you guessed it, with a number of teachers absent I was “needed.”

12:20 – 1:05 pm – The one lesson I actually spent in a classroom with Year 8 History. Alleluia!

1:05 – 1:30 pm – Lunch, yeah right! I spent this time assisting teachers and students who came to the IT Service Centre with computer problems. You see, our Help Desk operator is on long service leave!

1:30 – 2:45 pm – Working with Year 12s in the QCST practice because … “You’re so good at that stuff!”

2:45 – 3:00 pm – Lunch (I guess it was lunchtime somewhere.)

3:00 – 3:35 pm – After school bus duty; always such a delightful experience!

3:35 – 4:35 pm – Attend, as required, the Head of Department meeting even though I don’t head up a department. This included watching a John Hattie video that I’d seen several times previously.

 

A candid photo of The Connected Teacher taken at 4:59 on May 7.
(Not really, I don’t dress that well.)
Image Credit: www.dreamstime.com

5:00 pm – Arrive home and open a nice Victorian produced Sauvignon Blanc (I like to call the first glass “memory wipe.”)

And that, as they say, was that! Now, you rightly ask, what is my point? Well, recently my Twitter feed has provided a number of links to articles presenting lists focusing on “what makes a great teacher.” I have read these with interest and have discovered that while I might be considered good, I’m unlikely to be great. This is, of course, disappointing for someone who is 53 and a genuine History tragic … I mean, look what Alexander achieved in twenty fewer years! It might be appropriate to detail one such list by Iain Lancaster from www.teachthought.com  The link which follows will take you to the relevant article.

http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/8-characteristics-of-a-great-teacher/

Please do read it in full; all I’m providing is my shortened version of the “8 Characteristics.” Great teachers have:

  1. Confidence
  2. Life experience
  3. An understanding of student motivation
  4. An ability to connect with students
  5. Technological capability
  6. A willingness to take risks
  7. A focus upon the “Important Stuff”
  8. A tendency to not worry too much about what the administrators think

Now, I have plenty of confidence (some would say too much) and plenty of life experience, 53 years worth to be exact. I also believe that without some capability in numbers 4, 5 and 6, I wouldn’t have survived for over 30 years in the classroom. This brings us to Number 7 and what I believe is the “curse of competence.” School days are shaped by the imperatives of administration; a fact that elsewhere in this blog I have referred to as administrivia. Over the years I have gained a reputation for being highly competent, for being able to get things done. And that is the curse; when they need someone to fill a gap, to pick up the pieces, to get things done, then I am one of the “go to teachers.” The downside is obvious … there are far too many days like yesterday when I am taken away from the “important stuff” and that of course is student learning. If I could just be left alone to teach, and I do think I’m good at it, then I might still have time to become “great.”

PS: Generally, I don’t worry too much about what the administrators think. Unless of course one of them happens to read this!

PPS: And what do I believe makes a great teacher? Simple it’s about surviving May 7 and still fronting up on May 8.

Not me Either!
(After all this guy was great. But, I do dress like this!)
Image Credit: www.geocaching.com

Building the “Connected Teacher” Brand

It’s good to be blogging again after the insanity that was end of term examinations and student reports. This post will be somewhat of a compilation although I’m certainly not ready as yet to release a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” collection. (Can you guess who attended a Blues Festival last week? Oh, and by the way Jimmy Cliff is still kicking it at 68. Only hope I’m as impressive fifteen years from now!)

In an online community which has started to utilise, whilst still debating, the term teacherpreneur, I have come to understand the need for “building a brand.” Whilst entrepreneurship and brand immediately summon up the idea of monetary gain, I can assure you I haven’t made a cent! Dave Orphal gives the following definition of a teacherpreneur as distinct from a teacher leader or an educational entrepreneur. (You might also want to use the link below to access Dave’s excellent Prezi on this idea.)

“These are part-time classroom teachers. This is the big idea — job sharing so that the traditionally non-teaching jobs associated with a school; the traditionally non-teaching role of ed-policy maker; the traditionally non-teacher role of researcher, staff developer, etc… can all be done by people still have a foot in the classroom.”

http://learning2030-orphal.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/what-heck-is-teacherpreneur_3867.html

Having taught for over 30 years whilst holding a range of positions of added responsibility, this is the job I want now! Of course, I can’t see this happening in the real world; my school is highly unlikely to make me their resident teacherpreneur. So, I figure that the way to succeed is by building an online brand which is “legitimised” by the fact that I am still active in the classroom. The problem of course, is exactly how to construct my brand. I believe I have made the correct choices … so here are my “Four Cornerstones For Teacherpreneurs.”

1. Build A PLN: This Friday I will celebrate my first “Twirthday.” In that first year on Twitter I have accumulated 700 followers and have sent around 3300 tweets. Not a bad effort considering that I spent the first three or four months as a lurker. All of my followers are either teachers or companies involved in the field of education. Whilst I do occasionally tweet about films or books or music … I believe it is essential to be perceived by my PLN as someone who is excited about and heavily involved in education. I visit Twitter several times a day and ensure that I respond to all direct messages and mentions. I also consider it imperative to thank new followers for connecting and to promise to build a relationship of sharing with them.

2. Create Content: We certainly live in an age where creation has overtaken consumption. I emphasise this fact with my students and accept that I too must be a genuine creator of content. Obviously, this blog is one forum in which I can share what I am doing in class, what I believe and what I have “made.” It is also important to make your content available to the wider global market, to “put it out there.” Earlier this year, I created a Haiku Deck presentation entitled “The New Mindset” for colleagues at my school. (Yeah, I know I mention this at every opportunity!) I decided to put it online through the Haiku Deck gallery from where it has been picked up, tweeted about, pinned, embedded and shared. I am astonished that this presentation has now been downloaded over 6000 times and has garnered responses like this one. (Thanks, Matt.)

3. Seek and Accept Opportunities: I was pleasantly surprised when a random Twitter mention of owning a home in South Australia led to me being offered a guest post spot on Fractus Learning. (Nick Grantham, one of their principals, is an Australian!) Writing my contribution took a great deal of time but was well worth the effort, both personally and professionally. My post “You Can’t Adjust the Sails from an Armchair” was very well received and Fractus Learning offered me a “regular gig.” If you haven’t read my musings as yet, I would certainly welcome your feedback.

http://www.fractuslearning.com/2013/03/19/adjust-the-sails/ 

I am also delighted, as I’ve no doubt mentioned more than once before, to have built an association with Haiku Deck. Becoming one of their International Gurus has secured the opportunity for me to present about the application at conferences later this year. For me, the best part of this will be having the opportunity to meet some of my tweeps in person for the first time.

4. Connect With Preservice Teachers: I am flattered (… and that’s definitely the right word) that I have connected with many preservice teachers as part of my PLN. I think that all educators, especially those with lots of classroom experience, have an obligation to give back to the profession. I have begun to share resources and ideas via Twitter with young (and not so young) student teachers at Flinders, USQ and ACU. I sincerely hope that they remember that you can be 53 and open to the “Winds of Change” in education. This post has almost devolved into self-love but I want to offer one final artefact before signing off. I relish the downloads and the positive feedback but this video from preservice teacher Jenni Brown (follow her on Twitter @jenbrown01) is most definitely the kind of reinforcement I enjoy the most. It lets me know I’m well on my way to attaining my desired teacherpreneurship. (Is that even a word?)

Jenni’s video on “How ICTs Can Promote Professional Development” is well worth viewing, even if her drawing of “The Connected Teacher” looks nothing like me. We would both welcome your feedback.

PS: For the period from April 5-April 20 inclusive, I will be travelling overseas with my Year 12 Ancient History students. We will be visiting Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi and Olympia. I will be live blogging during the trip. These posts (which prove to parents that I haven’t lost their children!) may be of interest to my fellow History teachers and can be found at

http://aquinasingreeceturkey.blogspot.com.au